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Ottawa invests in Canadian ag youth

Ottawa invests in Canadian ag youth

The funding will help more young people enter the ag workforce

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The federal government is helping ag employers bring in young members of the workforce.

On Monday, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced an investment of up to $3.75 million to help agribusinesses hire Canadian youths between the ages of 15 and 30.

The Youth Employment and Skills Program will create more opportunities in ag for young Canadians and has a focus on supporting those individuals facing barriers to entering or staying in the workforce. Those challenges include people living with disabilities, single parents or individuals living in low-income households.

Those interested must apply for the program funding.

Approved projects can receive up to 50 per cent of total eligible costs, up to a maximum of $7,000. Projects that hire a youth facing a barrier can receive up to 80 per cent of eligible costs, up to a maximum of $11,200.

Applicants who are applying on behalf of an Indigenous or non-profit organization can also receive up to 80 per cent of the $14,000 maximum.

Agriculture employs 2.3 million Canadians.

Investing in the industry will help keep it as a top employer, Bibeau said.

"The agricultural industry is strong and growing, creating one in eight jobs which makes it the nation's single largest employer,” she said in a statement Monday. “This program will allow more young people in Canada to explore the limitless potential this industry has to offer, while helping agricultural producers and processors meet their labour needs."

Canadian ag organizations are pleased with the government’s commitment to youth in ag.

Ensuring the industry has enough workers for the future is key to keeping the sector strong, said Franck Groenweg, first vice-president of Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers and a cash crop producer from Edgeley, Sask.

“Anything that can help facilitate more people in the ag industry is great,” he told Farms.com. “If we don’t have a pipeline of people ready to work in agriculture, it will make the industry weaker.”

Young people can be important to the industry because of the way they think.

They question the norm and encourage others to do the same, Groenweg said.

“People who have defied the general sense of impossibility have been very creative and found ways to succeed when many people thought they couldn’t,” he said. “In my case, my wife and I started a farm at a time when people doubted us, and it looked that way. We decided to move from northwest Iowa to Saskatchewan because we thought (the new location) could fit our skillset.”

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